Size-tunable, hexagonal plate-like Cu 3P and Janus-like Cu-Cu 3P nanocrystals

Luca De Trizio, Albert Figuerola*, Liberato Manna, Alessandro Genovese, Chandramohan George, Rosaria Brescia, Zineb Saghi, Roberto Simonutti, Marijn Van Huis, Andrea Falqui

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


We describe two synthesis approaches to colloidal Cu 3P nanocrystals using trioctylphosphine (TOP) as phosphorus precursor. One approach is based on the homogeneous nucleation of small Cu 3P nanocrystals with hexagonal plate-like morphology and with sizes that can be tuned from 5 to 50 nm depending on the reaction time. In the other approach, metallic Cu nanocrystals are nucleated first and then they are progressively phosphorized to Cu 3P. In this case, intermediate Janus-like dimeric nanoparticles can be isolated, which are made of two domains of different materials, Cu and Cu 3P, sharing a flat epitaxial interface. The Janus-like nanoparticles can be transformed back to single-crystalline copper particles if they are annealed at high temperature under high vacuum conditions, which makes them an interesting source of phosphorus. The features of the Cu-Cu 3P Janus-like nanoparticles are compared with those of the striped microstructure discovered more than two decades ago in the rapidly quenched Cu-Cu 3P eutectic of the Cu-P alloy, suggesting that other alloy/eutectic systems that display similar behavior might give origin to nanostructures with flat, epitaxial interface between domains of two diverse materials. Finally, the electrochemical properties of the copper phosphide plates are studied, and they are found to be capable of undergoing lithiation/delithiation through a displacement reaction, while the Janus-like Cu-Cu 3P particles do not display an electrochemical behavior that would make them suitable for applications in batteries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-41
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 24 2012


  • Janus-like particles
  • copper phosphide
  • electrochemical lithiation properties
  • electron tomography
  • nanoparticles
  • transmission electron microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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